And One More Thing Before I Close…

Because I knew I was going to be out of town all week, I finished the sermon well before last Tuesday’s earthquake in Haiti.  But at 5:00 on Sunday morning I was up having coffee, adding these paragraphs at the end:

This morning I’m thinking about the people of Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere.  For so long now it seems that the only abundance they have known is an abundance of trouble.  After Tuesday’s earthquake a journalist said, “I was here during the 2008 hurricanes that left thousands dead and thousands and thousands homeless, and that felt like the Apocalypse.  But that pales in comparison to this.”  In the aftermath of this horrific tragedy the Rev. Pat Robertson has suggested that the Haitians are cursed because of a pact their ancestors supposedly made with the Devil two centuries ago.  “Ever since,” he said, “they have been cursed by one thing after the other.”  Although he didn’t go so far as to say that this earthquake was God’s wrath poured out on the people of Haiti what else could they infer?  Robertson subscribes to a kind of Old Testament theology that makes every act an act of God, good or bad.  If San Francisco fell into the ocean this afternoon, he would be on television tomorrow, telling us why.  But I hope the people of Haiti will won’t look at things the way he does.  I hope they can understand as we do that bad things happen to good people, sometimes to the best people we know, and for no apparent reason.  When Jesus’ disciples asked him, “Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?”  Jesus said, “It wasn’t this man or his parents.  It was so the works of God could be seen” (John 9:3).

I hope that’s what happens in Haiti.  I hope those people can understand that earthquakes happen not because God is angry, but because the living earth is still shifting and moving.  I hope they will see this one for the natural disaster that it is, but see in our response to this disaster the “works of God.”  As rescue workers come from this country and others, as relief flows into the ruined city of Port-au-Prince, as it comes with an abundance unlike anything the Haitians have ever witnessed may they see it as a sign—not a sign of God’s judgment, but of God’s grace.  May they sense that the door between heaven and earth has been opened just a crack, and may they see light seeping in around the edges.

7 thoughts on “And One More Thing Before I Close…

  1. I don’t think anyone would disagree with an assessment that Pat Robertson’s comments were insensitive, at best, and purely inane, at worst; but should his comments evoke hyperbolic judgements concerning his response to San Francisco falling into the ocean? I think that may be overkill of a very easy target.

  2. I am bothered with your phrase, “Old Testament theology”, as if that part of the Bible is not valid anymore. Actually, the Old Testament scripture of 1 Samuel 12:16-25 has helped me come to understand Haiti’s disaster and what MY reaction should be to it (verses 23-24).

  3. Thank you, Jim.
    When I heard comments by Pat Robertson on “YouTube” the day after the Haiti earthquake, I cringed. It occured to me later, that his statement about the Haitian people’s “pact to the devil” created such controversy/anger, that donations to Haiti may have increased as a result. I’d like to think that, anyway.

    . . . and that was the condensed/cleaned up version of what I wanted to say – wink.

    The day before the quake I was in my van, idling behind a car with a license plate that read, “PSLM 41.” I admit that I had to look it up: “Blessed is he who considers the poor; The Lord will deliver him in time of trouble . . . ”

    Note: Given Pat Robertson’s track record, I believe that he would in fact, be telling us “why” San Francisco may have fallen into the ocean if that ever occured. We do not know what he would say, but I feel certain that he would have an opinion, and I do not see this as a “hyperbolic judgement.”

  4. Hyperbolic? Well Charlie, I must admit I had to look it up. Interestingly enough, while I was looking things up I had the ispiration to look up Pat Robertson’s quote for myself. To my amazement, I discovered a a plethora of “stupid” Pat Robertson quotes. In my perusal of these quotes, I found a good use for my new vocabulary word, and, speaking of Judgement….I think our man Pat has cornered the market in that realm. Check out his comment to the city of Orlando concerning the gay rights march held in that city. Now, in my humble opinoin, THAT is hyperbolic judgement and makes the San fransisco comment seem gentle. Where does all this fear and hate come from? Certainly not form Jesus Christ.

  5. Thank you for this, Jim. My son and I had a discussion at the time these comments were made by Pat Robertson, and he seemed to think that this is what gives Christians “a black eye.” At a time when horrible devestation was occuring and prayers and compassion needed to be poured out, Mr. Robertson was basically saying to the people in Haiti, “see, this is what you get,” as if they deserved what was happening. I find that very sad. Now, however, we are truly seeing God’s work as many are being saved, both physically and spiritually, and have turned from their ancient practice of voodoo. As God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, we can only continue the work that is being done in Haiti and be grateful for every blessing we have so graciously been given.

  6. Pardon me folks – please allow me to correct my previous comment and rephrase:

    Please consider Pat Robertson’s track record.

    To say,
    “If San Francisco fell into the ocean this afternoon, he (Pat Robertson) would be on television tomorrow telling us why.” is not a “hyperbolic judgement” by ANY stretch, if you ask me, but like Geri said, it’s just “my humble opinion.” 🙂

  7. Thank you for this great post! I appreciate your emphasis on our response to this horrible tragedy as opposed to Mr. Robertson’s effort to “explain” an earthquake as a result of human sin. He has done this before and he will likely do it again. Unfortunately, many non-Christians see him as what a typical Christian is like, much like folk in other parts of the world think that all Americans live life like it is depicted in Hollywood.

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